Stretching for the wall and a super seventh gold medal, Caeleb Dressel brought his historic week to a dream finish.
Now, when Dressel makes his triumphant return to Green Cove Springs, he’ll be heading home with seven world championship gold medals to his name and a new title: the planet’s reigning king of the pool.
The former Clay High School swimmer captured his seventh gold medal of the FINA world championships, tying the all-time record of Michael Phelps, in the meet’s closing race Sunday in Budapest, Hungary.
Dressel swam the butterfly leg for the United States on the victorious men’s 4x100-meter medley relay, the traditional concluding event. He earned gold along with his former Bolles Sharks club teammate Ryan Murphy.
An aquatic dream team of Dressel, Matt Grevers (backstroke), Kevin Cordes (breaststroke) and Nathan Adrian (freestyle) touched the wall in 3:27.91, ahead of Great Britain and Russia.
The Americans were just behind the British when Dressel launched into the pool, but his 49.76 fly leg pulled the United States clear for gold.
Murphy also earned a medal, his fourth of the games, after swimming the backstroke in the Americans’ preliminary heats.
The race brought down the curtain on a world championship that was far and away the most successful in Northeast Florida’s swimming history.
Murphy, the former Bolles School backstroker who won three gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, finishes with two gold medals, a silver and a bronze from his week in Budapest.
His four medals tied him for the most in a world championship by an American backstroker.
Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, who also graduated from Bolles, earned a bronze medal Saturday in the 100 butterfly.
And the 20-year-old Dressel, who has followed the road from his Clay County hometown through the Bolles Sharks program to the University of Florida, has etched his name in swimming history.
Following the medal presentation, organizers honored Dressel as the best male swimmer of the meet.
During his trip from the St. Johns River to the banks of the Danube, his list of headline achievements goes on and on:
* He became the second man ever to earn seven gold medals at a single world championship, joining Phelps in 2007. Matt Biondi in 1986, Australian Michael Klim in 1998 and Phelps in 2011 are the only other swimmers to win seven medals of any color.
* He’s now the fourth American man (following Tim Shaw, Phelps and Ryan Lochte) to win three individual gold medals in a single world championship.
* He’s the second American man, joining Anthony Ervin in 2001, to sweep the freestyle sprints at a world championship, and the first to win the 100 in both freestyle and butterfly.
* He set United States records in three events (50 free, 100 free and 50 fly), helped two American relay squads to world records and came within 0.04 seconds of Phelps’ 100 fly world record.
Dressel’s seven gold medals exceeded the total for every national team other than the United States, as the American team dominated with 18 golds and 38 medals in all.
Though his world championship has ended, Dressel should be far from done.
Still three weeks shy of his 21st birthday, he could have many years more to shine in the sprint disciplines, where careers are often measured in decades.
For evidence, he need look no further than Ervin, who denied Dressel a spot in the 50 free last summer in Rio and went on to win the sport’s fastest sprint at the age of 35.
Dressel has also staked a strong claim for international honors as world swimmer of the year, an award largely dominated by Phelps and Lochte for much of the last decade.
You can read the original TU article here.